A GOP candidate in Colorado’s most competitive congressional race dropped out Tuesday, and one of the remaining candidates left open the possibility of joining forces with Colorado’s Libertarian Party.


Both developments came as a surprise.

Weld County Commissioner Scott James had been running an energetic, if underfunded, campaign to win the Republican nomination to take on U.S. Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-CO) in November. At a Feb. 18 meet-and-greet in Windsor, for example, James arrived early and chatted with attendees at every table in the venue.

Equally unexpected was a comment by state Rep. Gabe Evans (R-Ft. Lupton), one of three GOP candidates remaining in the race after Scott’s exit, that he’s still open to negotiating with the Libertarian Party of Colorado to keep a Libertarian candidate off the ballot in the tight congressional race.

In an interview with libertarian KOA radio host Ross Kaminsky, Evans said that he’s not yet signed the Colorado Libertarian Party’s candidate pledge, under which a candidate like Evans would agree to a set of policy stances in exchange for the Libertarian Party’s commitment not to run a candidate in the race.

But, in a shift from his stance reported previously, Evans left open the possibility that he could sign the pledge in the future, saying he’s not prepared to “right now.”

Caraveo won the congressional seat in 2022 by fewer than the number of votes cast for a Libertarian Party candidate in the race, raising the specter of a Libertarian candidate undermining a Republican candidate in November’s election.


“I’ve had conversations with folks in the Libertarian Party because I think there’s a lot of common ground that we agree on,” Evans told Kaminsky. “As far as, you know, smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes. You mentioned the pledge. I haven’t signed the pledge. We had a lot of conversations about, you know, could I get to a point where I could sign up? You know, I don’t know that I can get to that point right now. But again, I think this is a critical scenario where anybody that wants smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation. We need to find that common ground and work together so that we don’t have to suffer under more failed policies from Joe Biden and his allies in Congress like Yadira Caraveo.”

Another remaining GOP candidate vying to take on Caraveo is former state lawmaker Janak Joshi, who’s favored by right-wing talk radio hosts Chuck Bonniwell, an elected Colorado Republican Party official, and Julie Hayden, a former Fox 31 Denver TV reporter. The pair both called Evans a “RINO” during a Jan. 26 podcast due to his support from Americans for Prosperity, a right-wing Koch-funded political organization. “If Americans for Prosperity are supporting them, they’re a RINO,” said Hayden on air. “They’re an open borders uni-party establishment RINO. Otherwise, Americans for Prosperity wouldn’t be supporting them. And here’s why. Because Americans for Prosperity knows that even if Trump were to get elected, they could thwart everything he tries to do in Congress.”

Reached by phone, Joshi said he has yet to decide on the Libertarian Party pledge, but he emphasized that his “conservative values” align with those of the Libertarian Party.

The pledge includes a number of extreme anti-government and isolationist positions, including “immediately work to pull funding for Ukrainian aid and push aggressively for peace negotiations with Russia,” abolish the Department of Education, and “move to abolish all unconstitutional gun laws, including the NFA [National Firearms Act],” which restricts the availability of machine guns, sawed-off shotguns, and silencers.

In withdrawing from the race, James didn’t endorse Evans, Joshi, or a third candidate, businessman Joe Andujo.

“I wish the remaining candidates in the campaign well and would remind them to focus on the voices and needs of the people of the 8th Congressional District and not on their own ambitions and desires,” James wrote on Facebook.

Colorado’s 8th Congressional District, located in northern Colorado, is expected to be the battleground for one of the most competitive U.S. House races in the country. Caraveo, a physician, won the seat, which was created in Colorado after the 2020 U.S. Census, in 2022 by 1,632 votes. A Libertarian candidate in the race had 9,280 votes.

CORRECTION: This article initially did not state that businessman Joe Andujo is among the GOP candidates running in CD8.